"What is good theatre? An excuse for carrying on charmingly in public. And which of us doesn't long to do that?" *

In the spring of 1945, the Little Theatre Club staged The Ascent of F6, written by Auden in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood. This performance, which occurred during Auden's last days on campus, was intended as a tribute to the college's beloved visitor. The playwright returned the honor by consenting to work with the students; in addition to tackling the role of a barefoot monk, he also rewrote the play's ending (view the script revision as a PDF) and provided the director and the cast with suggestions and guidance.

According to Eleanor Follansbee von Erffa, in her article "Auden at Swarthmore" (published in the National Theatre Conference Bulletin in 1945), Auden was pleased by this performance - he "left Swarthmore with the statement that the production was the best he had seen, surpassing those of five professional companies in England" (von Erffa 29). Indeed, the theatre world was equally impressed. The American Academy of Arts and Letters sought to send the Swarthmore cast to New York for a performance, but due to wartime shortages of housing and funds, this venture fell through.

ascent of f6
Reproduced with the permission of the Estate W.H. Auden
Auden signed the lighting director's copy of the play.

Auden on campus < Drama > Auden the lecturer

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